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Guam, a Territory of the United States, is located in the western Pacific Ocean at 13° North, 144° East. Guam is the southernmost and largest island of the Mariana Archipelago. The island has a population of approximately 137,000 and is administered by an elected local government. The economy is highly dependent upon tourism (more than 1,400,000 visitors per year). Regular airline flights are available directly to and from Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Bali, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau, with connections throughout Asia and the South Pacific.
The 530-km˛ island rises some 400 m above sea level, has both dense jungles and open savannah, and is surrounded by fringing coral reefs. Air temperature ranges between 24° C and 34° C, and sea surface temperatures range between 27° C and 29° C year round. The coral reefs are among the most diverse in the world and provide excellent opportunities for research. The marine flora and fauna of Guam include about 377 species of scleractinian corals, 237 species of benthic marine algae, and 950 species of coral reef fishes; more than 1700 species of molluscs have been identified so far. Total known marine biodiversity in Guam exceeds 5,600 species identified to date. The University of Guam Marine Laboratory is unique among the U.S. marine laboratories with modern facilities within this rich biogeographical province.
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